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May 18, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Bob Harig

Bob Harig
  (4:00 PM)

Hey, thanks for logging in to this week's golf chat. As usual, plenty to talk about in the world of golf. Feel free to fire away with your questions. Thanks.

chris gerloff (tucson)

Harig, your an idiot, we have all longed for Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods type players to be there on Sunday and Toms (while out of his element tried to go for it, all you can do is ridicule, BTW he played superb golf, although I am sure you didnt seen ay of it!!), Get lost!!!! This just in, its hard to play golf, let alone at the highest stage.

Bob Harig
  (4:03 PM)

Well, there's a nice way to start! Thanks Chris. I suppose you are referring to the column I wrote on Sunday in which I discussed Toms' decision to go for the 16th green in two shots. He hit it in the water. Sorry, but it was far from ridicule. In fact, his own caddie and Toms himself second-guessed the decision to go for the green, as pointed out in the piece. This just in: who's the idiot!!!

Shortrib (Memphis, TN)

How come when I'm watching golf on T.V., the analysis are whispering even though they are no where near the hole that a golfer is playing on?

Bob Harig
  (4:05 PM)

The analsysts who are whispering are near the hole -- or, if they are talking from another booth, they are whispering because there are players right below them at the hole where the tower is located. You'd be surprised how close they are to the action and how much can be heard when there is nobody else talking.

Pete (Philly) [via mobile]

Do touring players take something to calm their nerves on Sunday afternoon? They could get perscriptions for all sorts of drugs used to calm and focus one's mind. What have you heard?

Bob Harig
  (4:06 PM)

Most of what you are talking about is banned as part of the PGA Tour's anti-doping policy. Random testing occurs most weeks on tour. If they took something like that, it would likely be detected, leading to a suspension.

Patrick (Hanover)

I would like to get your thoghts on some comparing this year to 2008 for Tiger as he didn't play after the Masters and was injured and still won. Although you can never count him out, I don't see much comparison. In 2008 Tiger was clearly the number 1 player in the world. He had won 3 of the 5 tournaments entered, had none of the personal issues yet and while he has won at Congressional, the history there is nothing compared to Torrey Pines. Also he currently is going through a swing chancge which he was not in 2008. Your thoughts.

Bob Harig
  (4:08 PM)

I tend to agree with what you say. Tiger's swing was not the issue in 2008. It was simply getting in the practice, the reptition, the work on the short game and putting. He hardly got to do any of that leading up to the Open but he did hit some balls. Now his swing is not quite right and he can't work on it. That's a bad combination.

Mike (Charlotte, NC)

What do you think is behind Adam Scott splitting with his caddy? Seems like he has started to turn it around after some down times and now is a curious time to make that type of change

Bob Harig
  (4:09 PM)

It is curious. I was surprised. He's been with Tony Navarro since 2004. Navarro used to caddie for Greg Norman. Sometimes guys change for the sake of change.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Obviously Mickelson was upset with the 13th green and McDowell with the 18th green. As a nuetral party, how did you feel about those shots ending up in the water?

Bob Harig
  (4:11 PM)

I thought in both instances it suggested that there is something wrong with those particular holes. You hit a ball on the right side of the green and it rolls all the way to the left into the water? That's what happened to Mickelson. As for McDowell, his ball landed in the rough, but it seemed like a perfect way to play the shot. Land it short of the green from where he was in the rough and let it bounce on. You won't get it close to the pin but at least it's on. Instead of kicks left and runs all the way through the green and into the water. Seems extreme.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

This may not be a popular subject but is the reason the strength of the field at the Byron Nelson get weaker every year due to his death? Also have they ever considered changing venues, that course, at least on TV, seams weak and the 18th hole seems so contrived.

Bob Harig
  (4:12 PM)

There are a lot of factors. Nelson's death is likey one of them. Players no longer see the need to honor him. But my guess is the Nelson is a victim of something discussed here often -- too many good tournaments. The week after is the Memorial. The same week is the BMW PGA Championship in Europe. The Colonial, Players and Wells Fargo precede it. Guys have so many choices. They can't play every week.

Al (Jersey)

Even without the injury, we probably wouldn't have seen tiger until the Memorial. With regards to Colonial CC, what is it that Tiger does not like?

Bob Harig
  (4:18 PM)

Tiger played there just one time, 1997, tied for fourth and has never been back. Kind of puzzling given his success, but he apparently didn't like the fact that he couldn't hit a lot of drivrs. It's a tight, short course that took away his strengths.

Brian (Westborough, MA)

Any chance a Mickelson or another top American plays in the BMW?

Bob Harig
  (4:20 PM)

I take it you are referring to next week's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. The flagship event on the European Tour. The guess here is you won't see any top players from the U.S. over there, even though the tournament exempts the top 50 in the world. Why? Scheduling, not much to gain. There are big purses here. The Memorial is the next week followed soon by the U.S. Open. Unless you're a European Tour player, it doesn't make much sense.

Bob Harig
  (4:22 PM)

Jack turned 30 in 1970 and that was the last year he played as many as 20 events on the PGA Tour. The most he played after that was 19 in 1972. In 1975 at age 35, he played 16 and in 1977 he played 18 and from that point on never played more than 16 in a season.

Ryan (Dallas)

Is Dustin Johnson/Joe Lacava a permanent deal or just a test run? Is it true that Freddy suggested this? Thanks Bob

Bob Harig
  (4:23 PM)

It is a test run and now the question is if they'll make it permanent. Or could LaCava try to caddie for them both through some arrangement.

Ernie (Long Island)

What are the odds that somehow Finchem pressured or begged Tiger to play the Players?

Bob Harig
  (4:25 PM)

I've written about this a couple of times and Finchem seemed annoyed at the insinuation. My take is that he did not pressure Tiger to play. Did Tiger feel pressure? Maybe. But Tiger typically does what he wants to do, and he was not going to play hurt just for the tour.

Andrew (Los Angeles)

Is it true Villegas let go of his caddie as well?

Bob Harig
  (4:25 PM)

Yes, if I've got my caddie relationships straight, his guy is going to work for Adam Scott.

Bob Harig
  (4:26 PM)

We'll never know -- unless he tells us or doesn't show up for an extended period of time. The tour doesn't announce suspensions.

Mike (Seattle)

Why the heck is Lee Westwood No. 1? Doesn't it hurt the sport to have a No. 1 who hasn't ever won a major?

Bob Harig
  (4:27 PM)

Both Fred Couples and David Duval went to No. 1 in the world before they won majors. The system is set up to take in all of golf's events, not just the majors. Luke Donald could also get there without having won a major.

Andrew (Los Angeles)

Age isn't the issue with Tiger, it's his endless knee problems. Considering the nature of the golf swing, he isn't likely to stay healthy for any long period in the future

Bob Harig
  (4:27 PM)

This is a view held by many. The question is how much pressure his swing puts on the knee, and can that be avoided.

Derek (North Carolina)

Do you think Phil Mickelson has a chance to win the PGA Championship, US Open, Or British Open this season

Bob Harig
  (4:29 PM)

I like his chances much better at the U.S. Open and the PGA than I do the British. For some reason, Mickelson has a poor record at the British Open. He's only contended one time, in 2004 at Troon. He finished second to David Toms in 2001 at Atlantic Athletic Club, site of this year's PGA.

Jeff (Raleigh)

So many 40 year olds did well at the Players - is this a trend that will continue?

Bob Harig
  (4:29 PM)

I think it is just the way things are going this year. So many different scenarios. No trends other than a lot of different people winning.

Terry (San Diego)

How much do G-Mac's problems have to do with his equipment switch at the beginning of the year? He left Callaway, right?

Bob Harig
  (4:30 PM)

He did leave Callaway and it's a point worth exploring. He is now using Srixon irons and the ball. He started off well, however. Equipment changes are always dicey.

Joel (Ponte Vedra Beach)

Favorite stop on PGA Tour for you? Why?

Bob Harig
  (4:31 PM)

Players, of course. TacoLu

Gideon (Orlando)

What is your opinion on Ian Poulter's sprint to finish on the 3rd day of the Players? Johnny Miller called him out on it; whose side do you take?

Bob Harig
  (4:33 PM)

I'm with Poulter on this one. Guys try all the time to get finished to avoid coming back the next day early. Running might have seemed extreme, but he had discussed it earlier with Mickelson. Not sure he hurt anybody but himself by doing it. Dustin Johnson didn't rush, nor did he need to. If it were a major or if he were in contention, I bet Poulter would have taken his time.

Ernie (Long Island)

Were Lee or Rory missed at all at the Players?

Bob Harig
  (4:36 PM)

It's hard to say. We'll never know, really. What if both played poorly and missed the cut? It was still a good tournament without them. I think they missed out more than the tournament missed them, but they've obviously got full schedules and plenty going on, which is why they felt they could pass.

Mike (Seattle)

Hasn't Westwood been padding his record with some wins in Asia? How is that for a No. 1?

Bob Harig
  (4:37 PM)

He did win twice recently in Asia, one of them a European Tour co-sanctioned event. But because the fields were weak, he earned far less rankings points.

Andrew (Los Angeles)

What was the point of Westwood and McIllroy not playing the Players? Was it Chubby Chandler trying to make a point?

Bob Harig
  (4:38 PM)

Neither are PGA Tour members, and so their starts in the US are limited. Westwood didnt' want to play the Players without coming over for another tournament, but that would have run up his total. McIlroy sited his schedule. He is playing in Spain this week, BMW at Wenworth next week. He didn't want to play too many events in a row.

Terry (San Diego)

Why is Sergio willing to play a qualifier for the British Open, and not US Open?

Bob Harig
  (4:39 PM)

My guess is convenience. He's committed to this week's tournament the Colonial and next week's Byron Nelson. The qualifier for the British is next Monday in the Dallas area.

Gideon (Orlando)

What is wrong with Anthony Kim? He played terribly at the Players

Bob Harig
  (4:39 PM)

Tough one to figure. He hasn't played well at all recently. He's not injured anymore.

Andrew (WI)

I wonder why the battle for #1 in the WGR is being ignored this week. The top 3 are all at the World Match Play, and it's definitely possible we could actually see 2 of the top 3 play against each other with #1 in the world at stake.

Bob Harig
  (4:40 PM)

I don't think it's being ignored. All three could vie for No. 1.

Ed (Long Island)

Do you think there is too much conversation about who is the OWGR #1? You don't get anything for it, as long as you are ranked within the criteria for getting into tournaments - it really doesn't matter if you are ranked 1, 10 or 28. Put it this way, I am willing to be that 100% of golfers would rather have Phil's career versus Lee's, even though Phil was never ranked # 1 but has 4 majors and Lee is #1 with no majors.

Bob Harig
  (4:41 PM)

You're right, it doesn't get you much other than prestige. And yes, Phil will take four majors and no No. 1 overall no majors.

Kevin (Las Vegas)

How is the Byron Nelson as compared to the Colonial? In terms of course and atmosphere?

Bob Harig
  (4:42 PM)

The Byron Nelson is an excellent tournament with a course that is nowhere near as iconic as Colonial.

Samuel (Las Vegas)

I heard Kaymer also fired his caddie - seriously, what is going on this week?

Bob Harig
  (4:43 PM)

I'm getting a bunch of questions on this topic.Kaymer, Scott and Villegas all dumped caddies this week. No explanation.

Andrew (Los Angeles)

So do you think Sergio can get up to Top 50 for the US Open? He played pretty well the last day of the Players.

Bob Harig
  (4:43 PM)

It's going to be very tough. He really needs to win this week to do it. He can still make it by the other cutoff, June 13, but he needs a couple of high finishes.

Terry (San Diego)

Who are the big names besides Sergio who do not qualify for the US Open yet?

Bob Harig
  (4:44 PM)

Vijay Singh is a big one that comes to mind. Ryo Ishikawa is another.

Mike (IA)

Do you think Tiger plays in the Memorial or will he sit that one out?

Bob Harig
  (4:44 PM)

That remains a mystery. He hinted the other day that he would not play.

Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)

I know Milwaukee didn't support a PGA event enough to warrant staying on the calendar but they also got one of the worst weekends every year. Do you see Milwaukee getting another PGA event in the future?

Bob Harig
  (4:46 PM)

There are two big issues in play: finding a title sponsor and then finding a date. Milwaukee was an opposite-field event to the British Open. The tour has already given that spot away. It also has a small window of summer and fall weeks. But if somebody finds a title sponsor who wants to be in Milwaukee, things change.

Mike (Seattle)

Has Rory completely recovered yet from his Masters collapse? I saw he missed the cut at Quail Hollow.

Bob Harig
  (4:47 PM)

I thought he showed he had recovered by playing pretty well the next week in Malaysia. It could have just been a bad week at Quail Hollow.

Shoshana (Boston)

Player A shot 67 to close to a t4 finish at the masters, didn't play Quail bc of injury and then WD from the players due to a sprain flaring up. His name is Geoff OgilvyI'm not sure why everything surrounding Tiger needs to involve a conspiracy theory or be a complete referendum on his game and future

Bob Harig
  (4:49 PM)

It's because it's Tiger. His story remains one of great interest because of who it is, what he has done, how he got himself in this predicament and how he has struggled.

Ernie (Long Island)

Is it true Galea is negotiating a plea deal with the Feds? What if he names Tiger as part of his deal?

Bob Harig
  (4:49 PM)

My guess is that would have come out by now, long ago.

Ernie (Los Angeles)

I saw Woj wrote an article regarding Tiger and PEDs. Those rumors have been growing stronger this year - thoughts?

Bob Harig
  (4:53 PM)

My quick take on this subject.Tiger was a strong propent for drug testing. He could have said, like many did, "Players in our sport don't cheat; we police ourselves; plus, PEDS don't help golfers."He didn't say that. He was strong in his desire for testing.He won as a prodigy, as a young pro and as an older pro. It's not like his performance suddenly improved and dropped off or that he started hitting the ball obsence lenghts. He always did hit it far.What about HGH, which isn't test for? Well, if is taking it, it's not really working, is it?The issue is much more complicated than this, but I am not of the belief that he has been a PED user.

Ernie (Long Island)

Is Ernie Els going to get it together? Is it true he is using a belly putter these days?

Bob Harig
  (4:53 PM)

He has experimented with a belly putter because he is truly struggling on the greens at the moment.

Terry (San Diego)

Why the heck is the Ryder cup going to be in France? Is there a single top 50 French golfer?

Bob Harig
  (4:54 PM)

Read my piece on ESPN.com (sorry, shameless plug). It boils down to: $$$$$$$$$$$. The European Tour makes a lot of money off the Ryder Cup and goes where it can cash in.

Samuel (Las Vegas)

Does Choi's victory at the Players mean better things for him in the future? Like a major?

Bob Harig
  (4:56 PM)

Go back to the 2001 winner of the Players: Tiger, Craig Perks, Davis Love, Adam Scott, Fred Funk, Stephen Ames, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Tim Clark and now K.J.Only Tiger and Pil have gone on to win majors after winning the Players.

Andrew (Los Angeles)

Does Tiger come back before Congressional?

Bob Harig
  (4:56 PM)

The guess here is no. But it's only a guess.

Mike (Seattle)

What's the word on Congressional? Is it tougher than Pebble?

Bob Harig
  (4:57 PM)

It depends on how they set it up. Graeme McDowell went there for media day and was blown away by how tough it was. Weather will mean a lot.

Samuel (Las Vegas)

Is the Tiger-Phil era over? What comes next?

Bob Harig
  (4:59 PM)

If it is over -- or when it ends -- we will probably see a lot of parity. A bunch of guys winning, nobody winning more than two or three times a year -- like last year. Golf needs somebody to win four, five, six times a year. It makes it more interesting.

Mike (Seattle)

For Congressional, do you mean heat and humidity? It gets wretched in DC that time of year

Bob Harig
  (4:59 PM)

Or rain, which would soften the course. Or wind, which could make it play more difficult.

Andrew (WI)

Just curious, what's the ratio of Tiger questions vs. non-Tiger questions. It just seems so unusual we let one athlete dominate a sport's discussion like this.

Bob Harig
  (5:00 PM)

The Tiger questions always dominate. That's why there are so many comments on Tiger stories compared to others. Even though some people wish eh woudln't be talked about so much, even they themselves can't help but talk or read about him.

Bob Harig
  (5:01 PM)

Okay, I'm out of time. Thanks for a ton of great questions, and sorry I could not get to them all. Don't forget my mailbag to get questions answered as well: bobhespn@gmail.com. . Thanks